Saturday, July 7, 2012

Creating Villains

This blog post is courtesy of Veronica Sicoe who graciously gave me a list of topics for when my brain is in freeze mode. You can find Vero at her blog, Veronicasicoe.com and on Twitter @veronicasicoe

Villains. The characters we hate to love. The bad guys. The antagonists.

Source
For me, villains fall into two categories. True evil and people we love who are acting like idiots.
In CAST IN GOLD, my villain is rich girl, Tinker. Hot, gorgeous (sort of like Maria Sharapova), but wounded. Her wicked ways are not her fault. She's just had to walk in some ouchy shoes. She wants to be my MC, Sadie's, girlfriend, but her background makes it tough. She's expected to be flawless perfection and gay doesn't fall into that category. At least not in her mind. Tinker falls into the category of people we love who act like idiots.


In MARKS OF A HORSEKEEPER, there are two villains, but we'll focus on Ocho, ruler of the Riff mine. Henry the VIII was my inspiration. As a young girl, growing up in the Episcopal church, I was fascinated by King Henry. Who was this man that could single-handedly throw off the Catholic church because he wanted a new wife, cuter, younger, more capable of producing an heir? And let's talk about Anne Boleyn. I think studying Henry VIII gave me my first view at the disposable nature in which some men view women. Misogyny at its finest. Even in elementary school I understood both the fundamental wrongness of this and the inherent fear that comes with being part of a physically weaker sex. So my villain, Ocho, is a misogynist with rules. He doesn't allow his betrothed girls to marry until they're eighteen. But love, forget it. And value - he only assigns that if Roan, my MC, does what he says.


In SING TO THE WIND, my villain is Sammy. He's basically every Southern backwoods redneck I've ever met in my life. (And being from Alabama, I represent, yo.) Small-minded, out for himself, devious, flawed. I needed to struggle to give him any redeeming quality but my CP insisted, so I let him put up with his wife, Whitney's, foster animal addiction. Sammy's a drug-dealer with a teenage bride and a toddler son. But it is all about him and he's not about to let you forget it.

So, what about you? Where do you find your villains?



12 comments:

  1. My villains come from real life. ^_^

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    1. Writing historicals you have a wealth of villains to choose from!

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  2. Oh, I already like Sammy! What a piece of sh.. work that one seems. And the redeeming quality is fantastically chosen -- because people who stick with hoarders seem kind, but are usually doing it out of codependency or parasitism, not kindness. Which fits with "villain" without making him less of a villain.

    I like the other two villains as well, by the way, no favoritism here. :)

    Thanks for doing the post, Jaye! I love that you put up pictures too.

    The villains in my WIP (THE DEEP LINK) fall on both sides of the fence, and one of them is constantly doing a balancing act.

    Hurst is the "evil" villain, with a "what's in it for me" mentality and no regard for others' lives whatsoever.
    Preston is the "good guy" with a good plan who just gets everybody f*cked in the process.
    And one other initially good guy gets caught in a twist, snaps by the last third of the story and goes south real fast. Won't tell who it is, obviously. *grin*

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    1. Oh, and by golly, thank you so much for the shoutout!

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    2. Ha and thanks for the brainstorm list! Your WIP sounds like a fast-paced joy ride.

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  3. I love thinking of the villain as either the shadow of the main character--or as like the main character except for one small thing. That's kind of like Tinker, right ;)

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    1. Yep, Tink would fall in that category. Sort of like the mirror of our worst characteristics?

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  4. My villains for some of my plots, come from my main character themselves. I take what my MC started out with and go on an opposite journey, instead of gradually learning compassion, the villain begins to hate humanity etc.
    I try to tailor my villains to their own story of course, but this has to be my favorite path. Not only because the MC and allies, may get the WHAM realization moment of, "Could have turned out just like them."
    But also because the reader and the MC can empathize with the villain in a way and yet because they both have gone through the same ordeals, there isn't a reason the MC could truly accept for all the evil deeds done. /rambleover.

    Thank you for the lovely article, I love getting sneak peeks into the minds of other writers!

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    1. Thanks Nadia, this sounds a little like Patty's approach as well. Sort of like the yin and the yang.

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  5. I tend to draw upon people I've know for my villains. I've yet to create a truly abhorrent villain I love to hate because I start putting myself in their heads and start becoming a little friendly with them and a bit sympathetic. But that can be a good thing I think to keep a villain from being overly one dimensional and comic-book like.


    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Yes, that one-dimensional tendency. I like my bad guys BAD so I have to be careful not to make them too shallow in their evil.

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  6. Henry VIII is quite a piece of work--I haven't though about him in ages, but now I'm sitting here remembering all the lousy things he did. Such a horrible (albeit interesting) man. My own villains are usually inspired by real life, and also good books (Snape, anyone?). And often, the real villain is within us, I think, and overcoming that is the hardest part...

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Hey, do you ever wonder why they call it 'your two cents?'